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E03582: Coptic fragments from the Life and Miracles of Apa *Matthaios (S01471), abbot of a monastery in Upper Egypt, recording many of his healing miracles, his exorcisms, his punishment for denied donations to his monastery, his power over animals and plants, and his journey to heaven prior to death, in order to observe what preparation is needed for abbots. Written most likely in the later 8th century.

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posted on 2017-08-19, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Apa Matthaios, abbot of a monastery in the early 8th century, is claimed to be an extraordinary expert in healing all sorts of diseases, physical and emotional, as well as those brought on by demons and magicians. From all over the district people would come to his monastery and receive help through his methods and prayers. The account of his miracles is presented to the congregation on his feast day. People suffering from demons or other afflictions who arrived at his monastery would be housed and fed by the monks, before returning home.

Till, KHML 2, p. 9, lines 11–19:

[ⲁϥ]ⲧⲣⲉⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ [ⲉⲧ]ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲥⲟⲃ[ⲧⲉ] ⲛⲁⲩ ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲣⲁⲡⲉⲍⲁ ⲛ[ⲥ]ⲉ[ⲟⲩ]ⲱⲙ ⲛϥϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϫⲱⲟⲩ ⲛⲥⲉϫⲓ ⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲛϥⲕⲁⲁⲩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲥⲉⲃⲱⲕ ⲉⲛⲉⲩⲏⲓ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲛⲏ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉϣⲁⲩⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲉⲩϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲡⲉⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁⲣⲓ ⲡⲛⲁ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲛ [ϯ] ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉϩ [ϯ]ⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲛϫⲓⲧϥ [ⲉ]ⲡⲉⲛⲏ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲟⲩⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲡⲱⲛ ⲡⲉ ⲉϥϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲛⲧⲛⲕⲁⲁϥ ϩⲓϫⲱϥ ϩⲧⲛ ⲧϭⲟⲙ ⲛⲓⲥ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲡⲉⲛϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲉⲧⲕⲟ ⲛⲁϥ ⲛϩⲙϩⲁⲗ

‘He let the brothers who lived in the monastery prepare a table for them, and they would eat, and he would pray over them, and they would receive a blessing from him, and he would send them off, and they would go home in peace.
They would be asking him, saying: “Our holy father, be merciful with us. [Provide] a bit of oil [and give] a blessing, and we will take it home for a relative of ours who is ill, and we will put it on him in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, this one to whom you are a servant.”’

The text also presents the case of parents bringing their young daughter to the monastery of Apa Matthaios who evicts a demon from her body. The joyful parents then take their fully recovered daughter back home.

Mental illnesses were likewise successfully treated in the monastery.

Till, KHML 2, p. 10, lines 6–28:

ⲟⲩⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲉ ϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲡⲉⲩϩⲏⲧ ⲡⲱϣⲥ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲛⲉⲧⲗⲟⲃⲉ ⲛⲉ ⲛⲉϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲩⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲓⲛⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲩⲥⲟⲛϩ ϩⲛ ϩⲉⲛⲛⲟϭ ⲙⲡⲁⲓⲇⲉⲥ ⲛϩⲟⲙⲛⲧ ⲙⲛ ϩⲉⲛϩⲁⲗⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲓⲡⲉ · ⲉⲩϫⲓ ϣⲕⲁⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲩϣⲁⲛⲡⲱϩ ⲉⲡⲣⲟ ⲙⲡⲙⲟⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲛⲉⲣⲅⲁ
ⲁⲛⲁⲭⲱⲣⲉⲓ ⲛⲁⲩ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲛⲥⲉⲗⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲩϣⲱⲛⲉ ϩⲧⲛ ⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲉⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲑⲑⲁⲓⲟⲥ ··
ϩⲉⲛⲕⲟⲟⲩⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲉⲁⲩⲣⲛⲟⲃⲉ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲧ(ⲛ) ⲧⲉⲛⲉⲣⲅⲁ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲣϩⲓⲕ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲩϣⲁ(ⲛ)ⲉⲛⲧⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ϣⲁϥⲧⲣⲉⲩⲥⲉ ⲙⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲙ ⲡⲗⲟⲩⲧⲏⲣ
ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲁ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ϣⲁⲩⲕⲁⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲡⲁⲑⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲡⲟⲩϫⲁ ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲁⲩ · ⲛⲥⲉⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲛⲥⲉϯⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲑⲑⲁⲓⲟⲥ
ϩⲉⲛⲕⲟⲟⲩⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲉⲩⲗⲉϫⲗⲱϫ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲩⲥⲱⲙⲁ ϩⲱⲥⲧⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲣ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ ⲉⲩⲛⲕⲟⲧⲕ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉϣⲁⲩϫⲧⲟⲩ ⲛⲁϥ ⲉϩⲣⲁ
ⲉⲩⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ϩⲁⲣⲟⲟⲩ ϩϫⲛ ϩⲉⲛⲙⲁ ⲛⲛⲕⲟⲧⲕ · ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲧϥⲛⲁⲧⲁⲗⲉ ⲧⲉϥϭⲓϫ ⲉϫⲱⲟⲩ ⲛϥⲥⲫⲣⲁⲅⲍⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲉϣⲁⲩⲗⲟ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ
ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲩϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲣⲁϣⲉ ⲁϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲟϣ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ · ⲛⲧⲁⲩϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ
ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲑⲑⲁⲟⲥ

‘And a multitude again from among those whose mind was beside themselves, that is those who are insane, their relatives would bring them bound in strong bronze shackles and iron chains, wailing. When they reached the entrance of the monastery, the forces would withdraw from them, and immediately they would be healed from their illnesses through the appeals and prayers of our holy father Apa Matthaios.
Others again, who were victims of sin through the power of those performing magic, when they were brought to him, he would let them drink water from the basin in the church. At once they would let go of the passion/be released from the calamity. They would immediately obtain well-being and be relieved and glorify God and the prayers of our holy father Apa Matthaios.
And again others whose bodies were sickly, so that they had spend a long time lying down, they would be taken to him lifted up on beds. As soon as he was about to put his hand on them and seal them (with a sign of the cross), they would heal from their illnesses immediately. Great joy was in the entire district because of the healing which took place through him, Apa Matthaios, the man of God.’

Excessive sinners, however, like the example provided of a sinful woman who had become pregnant after having fornicated with two brothers, were not allowed to enter the monastery, but would be seen to outside of it.

Apa Matthaios was likewise known for his power over wildlife and plants, rescuing animals in need, and being able to let anything he would plant give fruit within a very short period of time.

A woman whose dying husband asked her to make a donation of their boat to the monastery of Apa Matthaios on his behalf, is punished by the loss of her boat and all the goods it carried, when she decides to ignore her deceased husband’s last wish and instead offered only a third of the income from her boat transportation business to the monastery.

Shortly before his death, Apa Matthaios has a vision of himself being invited to visit heaven. He is greeted by many monks at the entrance of the heavenly Jerusalem and being led down long pathways. He sees Antony, Pachomius, Petronius, Theodore, Apa Shenoute, and Apa Makarios sitting on thrones and reporting on the achievements during their lives. Matthaios is then urged to go home and bring his accounting books to get ready for reporting on his own life.

Three days after relating his vision to his fellow monks, Apa Matthaios died on the 7th day of the month Choiak.

(Text: W. C. Till, KHML 2, 5–27; summary and trans. G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Matthaios, Apa Matthaios, abbot of an Egyptian monastery in the early 8th century : S01471

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲑⲁⲟⲥ, ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲑⲑⲁⲓⲟⲥ, ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲑⲉⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle with animals and plants Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Assumption/otherworldly journey Exorcism

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles


Fragments of four different parchment codices are known at papyrus collections in Naples, Paris, and Vienna to preserve the life and miracle account of the abbot Apa Matthaios. Layout and script suggest a production of most of these codices between the 9th and 11th centuries.


The exact location of this monastery is not known.


Text and German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 2 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1936), 5–27. For the later sources, see: Coquin, R.-G., "Matthew the Poor, Saint," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia (New York, 1991), 1571b–1572a.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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